Turkey jails 151 for life in ‘coup ringleaders’ trial

A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced 151 people including senior military officers to life imprisonment in one of the biggest trials over the 2016 failed bid to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The trial judge handed 128 of those convicted between one and 141 aggravated life terms each over the deaths of 139 people, for “violating the constitution” and “attempting to assassinate the president”, Reuters reported.

Such sentences carry harsher prison conditions, according to the country’s constitution.

Another 23 individuals were also handed customary life sentences, the agency said, while 27 suspects received prison sentences of up to 20 years.

Among the suspects was a Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accused of ordering the attempted putsch which left hundreds of people killed and thousands more injured.

Gulen who lives in the United States strongly denies the claims. However, Turkey has failed to secure his extradition.

Former air force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of former ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli, who since September has served as Turkey’s ambassador to the Netherlands, were among those convicted.

Lieutenant Colonel Levent Turkkan, who was the aide to the then Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar, was given one aggravated life sentence, state news agency Anadolu reported. Akar was appointed defence minister in July 2018.

country’s largest courtroom inside a prison complex in Sincan, outside the capital Ankara.